Barring Japan, Asian markets in the red as oil continues to decline
Asian investors continue to be on the sidelines over concerns of a potential Fed rate increaseReuters

Excluding Japan's benchmark stock index, Asian stock markets traded lower following a drop in oil prices. Investors continue to be concerned about a likely Fed rate increase that could be announced next week.

Mark Matthews, head of research for Asia at Julius Baer, said: "Most investors are 'laying low' ahead of the all-important FOMC meeting next Wednesday (16 December) and Thursday." The FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) is a branch of the US Federal Reserve which determines the course of monetary policy and informs everyone about the Fed's decision on interest rates.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 closed 0.16% lower at 5,029.50, marking a one-month low. Shares of companies operating in the energy, materials and industrial sectors all slipped following a drop in commodity prices. China's Shanghai Composite Index was trading 0.71% lower at 3,430.90 ahead of another set of economic data including retail sales, industrial production and fixed asset investment, due on 12 December. Separately, it was reported by local media that Guo Guangchang, chairman of Fosun International, who is also known as 'China's Warren Buffett' had gone missing.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index was trading down 0.87% at 21,515.94; India's Nifty was 0.62% lower at 7,635.50 and South Korea's Kospi was down 0.18% at 1,948.62.

Japan's Nikkei 225, however, managed to buck the trend as it was trading higher by close to a percentage point at 19,230.48 in the final trading session of the week. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is to start his India visit on 11 December. The visit follows recent approval of a multi-billion dollar Japanese proposal to construct India's first bullet train line between Mumbai and Ahmedabad in the western region of the country.

Among commodities, oil prices slipped with WTI crude oil trading 0.63% down at $36.53 a barrel while Brent crude was trading 0.58% lower at $39.50 a barrel.